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Response to Review of Papacy, Monarchy and Marriage, 860-1600

Sara Butler’s review is fair minded, indeed, written in a generous spirit, given my grumpy remark about high-school breakups. A few clarifications or corrections: Lothar II never got his annulment; I can’t take the credit of discovering how kings and nobles manipulated consanguinity rules in the 11th and the 12th centuries to get out of marriage – it is all set out for instance in John Baldwin’s Master’s, Princes and Merchants; and the distinctive feature of new trial procedure of the 13th century on was not ‘judge-led inquisitions’, but something far more interesting: lists of propositions compiled from the claims of both sides – so that it was a genuinely adversarial system, a medieval invention that has attracted too little notice. Finally I take the opportunity to mention an inexplicable and inexcusable mistake of my own: I date the Council of Beaugency (which dissolved the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to Louis VII of France) a year late. Butler has a point in regretting that key sources are in the sister volume Dissolving Royal Marriages, but merging the books would have produced a huge volume with a price tag well into three figures. In any case those sources and some other works of mine (hardly my ‘entire corpus’) I cite are not required for comprehension of the argument. Like any scholarly footnotes, they enable readers to verify what I say if they want to go to a library and do so. I don’t see how this is different from citing any other primary or secondary source. References tell the reader how to check what a historian claims to be the case, and, also, how to follow up ideas of information slightly outside the main line of argument, but connected with it. If my notes are compressed and allusive, they do not prevent Sara Butler from producing an an excellent prĂ©cis of the book’s central argument in the wonderfully readable style we know from her own recent monograph, which has a New Yorker- type accessibility. If she were to put on a course on how to do it, I would want to take it!